2022 Virginia election: Kiggans projected to unseat Luria in 2nd District; Spanberger to win in 7th, Wexton in 10th

Two of the 11 U.S. House races in Virginia were among the most closely watched in the country for signs of who will control the chamber next year.

In the 7th District, an endangered Democratic incumbent appears to have come back and held off a challenger. Meanwhile, another endangered Democrat lost her seat in one of the most closely watched contests of the year.

Virginia Rep. Elaine Luria, left, has been unseated by GOP state Sen. Jen Kiggans. (AP)

Luria-Kiggans in the 2nd

The Associated Press projected just after 11 p.m. that Republican state Sen. Jen Kiggans has defeated Democratic incumbent Rep. Elaine Luria in the 2nd Congressional District.

“We are celebrating the victory of a new day for our commonwealth and for our country,” Kiggans told supporters. She promised “a renewed commitment to restore American strength in our economy, at our borders, in our community and on the world stage.”

Kiggans said of Luria, “We certainly share a love for our Navy and a love for our country,” and to the people who voted for Luria, she said, “I really look forward to representing you in the halls of Congress as well.”

She added, “We ran a positive race. We ran a race based on facts. And we were outspent but we were never outworked.”

Luria, who served two terms, said shortly before 11 p.m. that she had called Kiggans to concede.

“We came out short of where we wanted to land,” Luria told supporters, “but the truth is that we do need to wish her the best of luck.”

She touted additional defense spending and the expansion of veterans care, and said, “There’s so much left to be done.”

Luria was a member of the Jan. 6 committee, which investigated the attack on Congress by supporters of then-president Donald Trump in an attempt to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory. That has made her vulnerable in the new district, which includes the Virginia Beach area and was redrawn after the 2020 census to include more rural areas and less of the Norfolk area.

She didn’t back down from that stance during the campaign, and she referred to it again during her concession speech. Referring to the all-but-certainty that former President Donald Trump will run again in 2024 — he may announce his candidacy as early as next week — Luria spoke of “the dangers that exist to our democracy,” and said that “making sure that we preserve our democracy and our votes continue to count – that work continues.”

With 236 of 247 precincts reporting, Kiggans leads Luria by about 52% to 48%. (The Associated Press estimates about 98% of the votes have been counted.)

Both Navy veterans, the two candidates competed in a district that was redrawn after the 2020 census and is more favorable to Republicans than previously.

“Our Constitution and our democracy are worth fighting for,” Vega said in an ad. “I will always live up to my oath and stand up for what’s right, regardless of the political repercussions.”

That said, Kiggans was “not all-in on some of the Donald Trump agenda items, and that gives her a bit more credibility with people who are not reflexively Republican,” Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor with the University of Mary Washington, told WTOP’s Nick Iannelli earlier this month.

Polling late last month had the race as a tie, while the nonpartisan Cook Political Report considers the race a toss-up. The Virginia Public Access Project reports that more than $15 million has been spent on the race.

On the left, Abigail Spanberger gestures during a debate in 2018. On the right, Yesli Vega speaks to supporters at a restaurant in 2022.

Spanberger-Vega in the 7th

Rep. Abigail Spanberger has defeated Republican challenger Yesli Vega, The Associated Press projected at about 10:45 p.m.

Spanberger and Vega, a Prince William County supervisor, were in a tight race all summer in a district that was redrawn after the 2020 census to leave out areas outside Richmond that went heavily for Spanberger, who is seeking her third term.

With 212 precincts out of 226 reporting, Spanberger, who had trailed Vega virtually all evening, now leads Vega by about 52% to 48%. (The Associated Press estimates about 98% of the votes have been counted.)

Ironically, the votes coming in late for Spanberger came from Vega’s own backyard of Prince William County.

“We have won this race,” Spanberger said to supporters in Fredericksburg at about 10:15 p.m.

Spanberger, who made much during the campaign of her bipartisan work in Congress and the support she got from Republicans, recounted the story of getting a letter and a gift from a Republican legislator when she was first elected in 2018 about the importance of “humility and empathy.”

She quoted former Czech president Vaclav Havel, who called politics “simply a matter of serving those around us, serving the community and serving those who come after us.”

Vega, for her part, told supporters in Woodbridge Tuesday night that “We want every single vote to be counted.” At about noon Wednesday, she tweeted a statement in which she said “We gave it our all but came up a little short last night. God is on the throne.” She congratulated Spanberger and said, “As supervisor, I look forward to working with Abigail in the future.”

More than $20 million was spent on the race, according to OpenSecrets, which estimates campaign spending.

Spanberger is one of the few House moderates to call for new, younger leadership in the Democratic Party; Vega tried to tie Spanberger to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi nonetheless, and has also echoed Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s claims that Democrats are trying to give government too much of a role in what’s taught in the classrooms of public schools.

Vega was looking to become the first Hispanic person elected to Congress from Virginia.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Va, left, and Republican challenger Hung Cao participate in a debate, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022, in Leesburg, Va. They are running to represent Virginia’s 10th Congressional District. (AP Photo/Matthew Barakat)

Wexton vs. Cao in the 10th

The Associated Press just after 11 p.m. projected that Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton has won a third term in the 10th Congressional District, defeating retired Navy captain Hung Cao.

With 198 precincts out of 209 reporting, Wexton leads by about 53% to 47%. (The Associated Press estimates that about 99% of the votes have been counted.)

Kyle Kondik, of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the U.Va. Center for Politics, had the seat as “Likely Democratic,” but also recently wrote that Cao “appears to be running a real race in a district that has moved strongly toward Democrats in recent years.”

The possibility of tight races for these seats, in a national atmosphere where Republicans need only five seats to take control of the House, has had national attention – and money – pouring into Virginia for months.

The other congressional races in the commonwealth went as expected, with victories for incumbents. The Associated Press has projected:

  • Republican incumbent Rob Wittman has kept his seat in the 1st District;
  • Democrat Robert Scott will keep his seat in the 3rd;
  • Democrat Don McEachin has been reelected in the 4th;
  • Republican Robert Good has been reelected in the 5th;
  • Republican Ben Cline has held his seat in the 6th;
  • Rep. Don Beyer, a Democrat, has kept his seat in the 8th District;
  • Rep. Morgan Griffith, a Republican, has won in the 9th District, and
  • Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Democrat, has been reelected in the 11th.

Local races

Meanwhile, voters will also pick members of the Arlington County Board and School Board, as well as six bond questions.

Fairfax City will elect a Mayor, City Council and School Board, while Herndon will select a mayor, and there’s an election for the School Board and a boatload of town-level races in Loudoun County and Manassas Park.

Check out the local results.

Early voting

It’s probably not a surprise that early voting totals are way above the last midterm election, held in 2018. The Virginia Public Access Project reports that 942,532 ballots had already been cast through Monday, compared to a final total of 344,594 four years ago.

Mail-in ballots must have been postmarked by Tuesday; they can arrive at your local board of elections up until Monday in order to be counted.

WTOP’s Nick Iannelli and Mitchell Miller contributed to this report.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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